Oscar foreign-language film race 2019: all the titles submitted so far
Source: Un Certain Regard
Nominations for the 91st Academy Awards are not until Tuesday January 22, but the first submissions for best foreign-language film are now being announced.
Last year saw a record 92 submissions for the award, which were narrowed down to a shortlist of nine. This was cut to five nominees, with SebastiÃ¡n Lelioâs transgender drama A Fantastic Woman ultimately taking home the gold statue.
Screenâs interview with Mark Johnson, chair of the Academyâs foreign-language film committee, explains the shortlisting process from submission to voting.
Submitted films must be released theatrically in their respective c ountries between October 1 2017 and September 30 2018.
Belarus: Crystal Swan (Darya Zhuk)
Darya Zhukâs debut is about a wannabe DJ growing up in post-Soviet Belarus in the 1990s, who dreams of moving to the US but makes a tiny error on her visa application throwing her plans into disarray. Produced by Demarsh Films, Crystal Swan opened the East of the West competition at Karlovy Vary in June. Speaking to Screen about the film, Zhuk said, âI was trying to capture this certain female cool.â Parisâ Loco Films handling international sales.
Belgium: Girl (Lukas Dhont)
Dhontâs debut feature was a success at this yearâs Cannes Film Festival, where it won the CamÃ©ra dâOr and the Queer Palm, as well as the Un Certain Regard jury award for best performance for Victor Polster. The story concerns a young girl born in a boyâs body, who longs to be a ballerina. Dhont spoke to Screen in May about the genderless casting process he undertook for the lead role. The film is Belgiumâs 43rd submission to the foreign-language award; the country has submitted an entry for the last 28 years in a row, and achieved 7 nominations in total, most recently for Felix Van Groeningenâs The Broken Circle Breakdown in 2013.
Estonia: Take It Or Leave It (Liina TriÅ¡kina-Vanhatalo)
TriÅ¡kina-Vanhataloâs Take It Or Leave It was produced by experienced Allfilm producer Ivo Felt, whose Tangerines (directed by Zaza Urushadze) earned Oscar and Golden Globe nominations. The film was produced for the Estonia 100 initiative honouring the countries centenary, and revolves around a young man becoming a single father.
Lithuania: Wonderful Losers: A Different World (ArÅ«nas Matelis)
Matelisâ second Oscar submission - after 2006âs Before Flying Back To Earth - is a documentary about the medics and water carriers who assist in professional cycling races without receiving any of the glory. It has picked up several prizes including three Lithuanian Film Awards - best documentary, best score and the audience award. This is Lithuaniaâs 11th submission, and the country is yet to receive a nomination or have a shortlisted title.
Romania: I Do Not Care If We Go Down In History As Barbarians (Radu Jude)
Barbarians is Judeâs second film to represent Romania in the submissions, after Aferim! in 2016. It tells the story of theatre director Mariana (Ioana Iacob), who wants to stage a public re-enactment of the Odessa Massacre during World War II, when the Romanian army executed thousands of innocent Jews. Produced by Hi Film Productions (Romania), and co-produced by Endorfilm (Czech Republic), Les Films dâIci (France), Klas Film (Bulgaria) and Komplizen Film, international sales on the film are being handled by Beta Cinema.
Slova kia: The Interpreter (Martin Sulik)
Martin Sulik has directed six previous Slovak Oscar submissions including 2011âs Gypsy; his new film had its world premiere at Berlinale Special at Berlin Film Festival earlier this year. With Toni Erdmann star Peter Simonischek and Czech film stalwart JiÅÃ Menzel in the lead roles, the film follows Georg (Simonischek), a retiree living in Vienna who is visited by Ali (Menzel), an interpreter looking for the Nazi officer who may have killed his parents in Slovakia. The two men find a common interest, and begin a journey across Slovakia to find surviving witnesses of the wartime tragedy. Celluloid Dreams handles international sales; Menemsha Films will distribute in the US. Screen premiered the first trailer exclusively in February.
Sweden: Border (Ali Abbasi)
Abbasiâs sophomore feature won the Un Certain Regard prize at 2018âs Cannes Film Festival. It follows a customs officer who forms a special bond with a subject she is investigating; Abbasi talked to Screen about how the story channels âthe experience of being a minorityâ. Ingmar Bergman won Swedenâs only Oscars in this category with prizes for The Virgin Spring (1960), Through A Glass Darkly (1961) and Fanny And Alexander (1983); the country has received 16 nominations in total, including last year for Ruben Ãstlundâs The Square (his Force Majeure was a surprise omission in 2014).
Switzerland: Eldorado (Markus Imhoof)
Previously Oscar nominated for The Boat Is Full in 1981, Markus Imhoofâs documentary about the current worldwide refugee crisis had its world premiere at Berlin Film Festival in 2018. It draws inspiration from Giovanna, the refugee child taken in by Imhoofâs family in World War II. The film was coproduced by Thelma Film in Switzerland, zero one film in Berlin, Swiss Radio an d Television (SRF) and Bavarian Broadcasting (BR). Berlinâs Films Boutique is handling world sales, with territories including France, Hungary and Poland already sold.
Turkey: The Wild Pear Tree (Nuri Bilge Ceylan)
This is Ceylanâs fifth submission to the foreign-language film Oscar consideration, after Distant (2003), Three Monkeys (2008), Once Upon A Time In Anatolia (2011) and Winter Sleep (2014). Turkey has never had a nomination from 24 previous submissions, with Three Monkeys coming the closest by making the January shortlist. Ceylanâs film, which premiered at Cannes in Competition, follows a young man about to graduate college, who is looking for a way out of the fate that seems to be mapped out for him. Memento Films handles international sales.
UK: I Am Not A Witch (Rungano Nyoni)
Zambian-Welsh director Nyoniâs BFI-backed debut feature is a darkly satirical story of a young girl in Zambia accused of witchcraft. It premiered at Cannes 2017, before a UK release in October last year, and has won multiple awards across the world, including a Bafta for outstanding debut by a British writer, director or producer, and three British Independent Film Awards (BIFAs), two of which were for Nyoniâs directing. The UK has made fifteen previous entries to the foreign language film award, with two nominations, both for Welsh language titles - Paul Turnerâs Hedd Wyn (1993) and Paul Morrisonâs Solomon And Gaenor. Read the full story here.
Colombia: Birds Of Passage (Cristina Gallego, Ciro Guerra)
A saga tracing the birth of the narcotrafficking industry which gutted Columbian society, Gallego and Guerraâs film opened Directorsâ Fortnight at Cannes in 2018. The pair received Colombiaâs only Oscar nomination in the category from 26 previous submissions in 2015, for breakout hit Embrace O f The Serpent (with Guerra directing, Gallego producing). Guerra also directed previous Colombian submissions Wandering Shadows (2005) and The Wind Journeys (2009).
Venezuela: The Family (Gustavo RondÃ³n CÃ³rdova)
The Family is CÃ³rdovaâs feature debut after an extensive shorts career. The film, which looks at the relationship between a father and son in a violent blue-collar Caracas neighbourhood, premiered in Criticsâ Week at Cannes 2017, before a festival run that took in Jerusalem, San Sebastian and prizes at Miami Film Festival. A place on the January shortlist for The Liberator in 2014 is the closest Venezuela has come to foreign-language Oscar glory, from 28 submissions since 1978.
Japan: Shoplifters (Hirokazu Kore-eda)
Kore-edaâs story of a family living on its wits won the Palme dâOr amongst strong competition in May; it follows 2017âs Palme winner The Square (an eventual Oscar nominee) into the foreign-language award process. Kore-eda told Screen he was looking to explore what ties a family together through the film: âIs it blood or the time you spend together?â. Japan has had 12 nominees for this award, with one win for the most recent, Departures, in 2008. Films from the country also received three honourary awards in 1951, 1954 and 1955, before the foreign-language award became a competitive category.